The Board of Trustees of Southwest Public Libraries has directed me to respond to the many news stories surrounding Grove City's proposal to move the Grove City Library to the proposed lumberyard development behind City Hall.

The Board of Trustees of Southwest Public Libraries has directed me to respond to the many news stories surrounding Grove City's proposal to move the Grove City Library to the proposed lumberyard development behind City Hall.

Southwest Public Libraries was approached two and a half years ago by Grove City about the possibility of moving to the lumberyard project. Mayor Richard L. "Ike" Stage and other city officials made several presentations to the SPL Board of Trustees.

After much debate and discussion, the SPL Board of Trustees voted to reject the city's proposal at its meeting in December.

Mayor Stage and all City Council members signed a letter to the SPL Board of Trustees requesting that the board reopen negotiations. Mayor Stage and Council members Ted Berry, Larry Corbin, Greg Grinch and Maria Klemack-McGraw attended SPL's January board meeting and again requested that negotiations be reopened.

The SPL Board of Trustees agreed to Mayor Stage's request to use a mediator, retired MORPC executive director William Habig. In addition to Mayor Stage, Grove City was represented by Councilman Grinch.

Several meetings took place during February and March, and progress was being made to address SPL's concerns about ownership of the new building and about future library funding.

City Council President Berry delivered what amounted to an ultimatum letter to the SPL Board of Trustees dated March 20. In that letter Council members Berry, Klemack-McGraw and Michael Uhrin stated that the city would either provide $8-million to move the Grove City Library to the new lumberyard project or $4-million for the expansion of the existing Grove City Library, with both offers contingent on passing an operating property tax levy by May 30, 2011.

SPL made a counteroffer on March 27 that accepted the $8-million, but without the provision for an operating levy since we cannot guarantee the passage of a levy.

After much discussion at its April 6 meeting, City Council voted three to two against Mayor Stage's proposed resolution to accept SPL's counteroffer of March 27.

It has been implied, at times, that Grove City would have given the library $8-million with little in return.

The SPL Board of Trustees wishes to emphasize that the deal was not as one-sided as it has sometimes appeared. Had the deal gone through, the city would have taken possession of the Grove City Library property at 3359 Park St.

Preliminary plans called for turning the old library into a community center and eventually constructing condominiums on the remaining property.

The lumberyard project would have also significantly benefitted from the foot traffic that would have been brought into the development by the new Grove City Library. An estimated 25,000 to 30,000 patrons visit the Grove City Library each month, and that traffic would have undoubtedly benefitted any commercial businesses locating in the development.

The Grove City Library has been at its current site since 1952 and it will continue to deliver the best service possible and to be an asset to the Grove City community.

Mark M. Shaw is director of Southwest Public Libraries. He wrote this on behalf of the Southwest Public Libraries Board of Trustees, Kay Byard, president; Jeffrey Davis, vice president; Lisa Leasure, secretary; and members Jill Billman-Royer, Kathy Bright, Richard Curtiss and Marc Mays.